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News & Features Discussion  » General: Fuller: How Do You Pick Your MMO?

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Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

OP  10/21/09 12:44:55 PM#1

In this week's column, Garrett Fuller asks readers what criteria they use when choosing their next MMO and details his own personal philosophies in that area.

Garrett Fuller

This week the subject of my column is simple. It is not about the industry or trends. I don't have some gameplay insight on something spectacular to share with you. Let's face it, October and November are the quiet months in any industry. In the MMO world, it is the time when companies go quiet and work on their games as opposed to promoting them all summer long. So what do I have to talk to you about today? I want to ask the question, how do you pick your MMO?

This is a tough topic and can be very subjective. So let's start by saying a new game is announced. It could be anything, but I want to know what steps you guys go through as gamers to look at it and decide to give it a try. I have to use myself as an example so here we go:

Read Fuller: How Do You Pick Your MMO?

Jon Wood
Managing Editor


Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 18493

10/21/09 1:06:21 PM#2

I pick a game based upon setting and art design and general gameplay elements.

After that I play the game for what it is and if the gameplay is fun and it's epic in a certain way then I continue to play.

I don't really care about who makes it because I've never played a game that didn't have issues and even issues that others thought were major but I felt were non-issues.




Joined: 6/15/08
Posts: 2245

Posts deleted: 12589457

10/21/09 1:22:00 PM#3

One word: immersion.

If it's a game to play, i'll pass. If it's a world to get lost in, i'm in.


Novice Member

Joined: 8/04/06
Posts: 664

10/21/09 1:24:20 PM#4

Who makes a game plays more into the "hype" factor. If it's a company I like and trust, I'm more likely to pay attention to it. If it's from a company with a less-than-stellar record, I may just check on it from time to time. The people who make up a company are always changing, so I let the product, not the company, speak for these things.

Things like genre, graphics and class/race aren't important to me at all (although, including a monk in the mix might tempt me). I've played some really incredible isometric games with very little to say as far as graphics are concerned, and I've played a huge variety of classes and races and had fun with all types of playstyles and genres.

The biggest thing for me is the "feel" of a game. I don't want things to be too easy or too hard, and I'd like to feel like I'm making some sort of progress when I play. These are very personal though, which is why I personally don't judge a game until I've tried it.

Second most important thing for me is... what is there to do outside of combat? A solid crafting system, partnered with some sort of "home" or "room" to decorate to my liking are really big perks for me. This is followed by any elements of strategy (either RTS or working with a group of NPCs).


Advanced Member

Joined: 7/16/09
Posts: 319

10/21/09 1:35:59 PM#5

How do I pick games?

In the early days if I visited friends and saw a new game and the gameplay/story/theme appealed to me then I got me the game. A few years later it was through reviews in computer magazines. I don't really care about what is still in development right now or when it will eventually be released. Nowadays I don't read game magazines anymore.


How do I pick my MMOs?

I haven't played that many MMOs. But the first one was recommended to me by a colleague from work. I had a look at the manufacturer's game site and subscribed two months later after I got some more informations.

An in-game aquaintance directed me to another MMO as he knew I was a fan of D&D.


Concerning future MMOs? Dunno. Maybe I will stick to games from companies I know and have played games in the past. But I will definitely have a look at the gameplay features. What I don't want is a "kill 20 rats and return 10 rat tails"-MMORPG.


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/03/09
Posts: 1839

10/21/09 1:41:51 PM#6

The first thing I look at is the name. If it's a name I recognize, such as Dungeons and Dragons, I definitely look into it further. If not, then I look at the screenshots. If the screenshots show a game I'd like to play, I'll move onto the next step. The next step is the setting. I have to like the setting to get into the game. Gameplay and graphics alone doesn't guarantee a buy from me. If I don't get pulled into the story and want to get involved in that world, then I'll never make it past the honeymoon phase after I buy the MMO.

If the setting is good and the graphics are modern, then I look into the type of gameplay the game is offering. Gameplay examples are turn-based combat, FPS combat, and so on. The use of abilities on hotbars, autoattack, and how you get those abilities is also a gameplay thing. If the gameplay looks fun, I look into what races and classes are offered, and how characters progress. A skill-based system automatically gets my attention, but if it's a class-based game, then it depends on what classes they're offering and their spin on those classes. They must at least have one race I can identify with, or I will never get into the game, like the setting ordeal. 

Next I look at features. Does the game have the features I'd expect to have in the type of game their selling? If all of the above is good, I look at the company name. If it's a recognizable and reputable company, then I have more confidence in the quality of the game. If the company is not recognizable or irreputable, I'll take the wait and see approach. I let others be the guinee pigs.

Lastly is the open beta test. If I hear mostly positive things about the game, I'll consider buying it at release. If I don't, I'll wait. 


Novice Member

Joined: 10/18/04
Posts: 3247

10/21/09 1:43:57 PM#7

For MMOs, I will usually only go for games that I can play something other than a human. The more evil the better, thus if I can play as a vampire, dark elf, or undead I will inevitably try it out for no other reason. If I were looking for a new MMO today it would have to include the following elements as well:

1. Zero to mild loot progression. I have played WoW for a long long time and I am completely burnt out on any kind of loot treadmill and refuse to participate in it.

2. Decent meaningful PvP done for reasons other than item upgrades.

3. More than 3 factions. 2 is just boring and imbalanced and 3 has been done before.

4. Roleplaying community. Doesn't have to be completely RP, an RP server option would be cool. Or as long as there were a few RP guilds, that would be fine as well.

5. Modern graphics. Better than Fallen Earth, but doesn't have to be as good as AoC or Aion.

6. Fluid movement and abilities. Clunky gameplay just isn't going to cut it. Lag ties in here as well.

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Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/30/04
Posts: 1282

10/21/09 2:43:39 PM#8

The choice to play an MMO is made after discussion with friends what would be an good game to play that meets the exceptions we have. To stay there it must deliver and if i dislike the game i will not stay for longer than some months even if my friends will play it for longer.

AoC vs Aion is an example. One friend took us all to AoC and we played for around a year but got exhausted then and choosed to test Perfect World and Aion. Perfect World is one of the best f2p-games but did not atract them so they left it. I feel Aion is a big scam that should be f2p and even then i would not play it bcs of its boredom but sadly my friends seem to like it in a way i dont understand so i will play it for some months to show my loyalty but i will leave it as soon as possible. Meanwhile i have begun to play AoC again.

So the first and foremost reason to pick an MMO are friends to play with!

To stay friends alone are not enough...

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Novice Member

Joined: 4/09/05
Posts: 2311

10/21/09 2:44:17 PM#9

For me I guess there are things that I definately look for to be included, but then equally things that make sure are not there. But even then there can be leaway, I guess on the whole I look for a game that after logging on for a bit I forget I'm playing a game.... and I really am tripple shotting that hacker in the face with a JH..... bbbrrrreeeaaaath.

The developers and the IP are completely irrelevent in my choice though.

“The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.”


Novice Member

Joined: 10/27/07
Posts: 405

10/21/09 2:46:25 PM#10

I guess one of the first things for me when it comes to picking an mmo is if any of my friends are playing it. All mmos are more fun when you are able to begin playing with people you know.

I also have to look at the graphics, I am fine with WoW style graphics or anything better, they just need to be able to give a sense of atmosphere and come off well polished. Animations I also feel play a big role in making the world feel a bit more real. Sound design and music are one thing I don't really care about in mmos. After a while I mute all the sound in the game and just listen to my own music or am talking to other people in vent, so having game sound on temds to be an anoyance.

Now for gameplay itself I prefer a good mix of pve and pvp. I just like my pvp to feel like the players skill at playing his character matters more so than the characters level or gear worn. Not too many games allow that type of pvp though when it comes to mmos so I tend to be playing more and more pve. So when it comes to pve I enjoy being able to do several things and have fun, not just doing raiding or dungeons all day. I would also like to be able to just talk to friends and make a more social experience so that the game allows fun even when not doing competitive activites. For me the added social experiences will allow for titer bonds, and a longer game life span for me before I get sick of it.

Maybe my list of what I look for is more of a wish list in the end.


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/15/04
Posts: 4244

10/21/09 2:53:16 PM#11

For me, 2 things must stand out. Immersion and Progression.

I could care less about who makes it, as that would eliminate potential brand new start up companies or indie games.

Graphics and screenshots are impulse points but what makes me actually "choose" to play or buy a game all comes down to how I feel when I play it.

Prime example: I was playing EQ2 when it first launched. I was a little disappointed with the difficulty and the group aspect, also with the at the time extremely high PC requirements. During that time a buddy of mine from FFXI told me he was playing WoW. I wasn't a Blizzard fanboy and was sceptical about this game called World of Warcraft. Once I went out and bought the game, from the very intro cinematic I was immediately hooked and it only went up from there. The game was FUN.

Now when I play a game, while I am not comparing to the specifics of WoW, I do compare to the FUN aspect and that "magic" feeling I got when I first installed it. Most games pale and don't match up. Some gems coming down the road however have me itching, namely STOR and STO.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/15/06
Posts: 10

10/21/09 2:59:08 PM#12

1.) Is it Fantasy based? (If not, I'm not interested)

2.) Is it 3D? (not interested in 2D)

3.) Does it use standard MMO interface/combat? (not interested in FPS/twitch or realtime combat MMOs)

4.) Does it offer the ability for decent solo play? (I don't have time for massive coordination or drama)

5.) Does it offer solid PvP scenarios/battlegrounds/instances? (I want fairly instant PvP action)

From there there are just preferences... I prefer it to be a new property not a licensed world/product. I prefer a solidly balanced class/spell system that allows for strategy and smart play over uber items/spells or an OP class. Is the game fun from the start? I don't want to have to hit level 99 after months of slogging through generic quests just to finally play.

I loved WARs scenarios, but little else with that game. Some of the most fun I've had recently has been on a private WoW server which is battleground only. I can get in, play, have fun, and be done in an hour. No B.S. no wasted effort/time. Why Blizz won't just offer something like this to those of us who don't care or have time for massive raids and thousands of lame quests, I will never know. The first MMO that does, though, will gain my business instantly.

My biggest hope is that Magic: The Gathering would get the MMO treatment. With spells so well playtested and balanced it could be great... even though it is a licensed product.

My 2g


Novice Member

Joined: 8/03/06
Posts: 424

10/21/09 3:00:48 PM#13

picking a mmo ..

ofcourse its gota be a title im intrested in the grafics, imersion ,an story.

1st if friends are in that game what they think about the game.

2nd read forums including the games offical forums not just here on mmorpg.see what the over all feel is their . even tho a games offical frums are around 10% of the population ,it gives a idea of how the comunity is.*

3rd game bugs .how bad will it afect my sytem.

4th money to get in to the game how much it costs ,if theirs a cash shop,etc etc

*note x fire numbers mean nothing to me for games i pick to play  wow is always 1 their an it bored me .x fire also proved to be buggy an very picky on which games it recognized as well as reporting wrong hours for time played for some games.


"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." — Robert E. Howard, The Tower of the Elephant (1933)


Novice Member

Joined: 6/23/09
Posts: 2728

10/21/09 3:05:56 PM#14

1) Who makes it


2) Difficulty. I dislike easy games that I can max out in only 3 weeks from launch no thanks.


3)Does it require grinding the same end dungeons over and over for gear. No thanks.


4) I prefer a skill tree to a class system but I will play both.


5) I like to play stealthier rogue like characters. The real style with a lot of stealth but if you're caught you have low armor and low health. I like the strategy aspect of it.


6) If it's in free trial mode. Due to how games have been released in the last several years I do not buy MMOs. I wait for the free trial to start and then give it a shot. I have no problem with the monthly subs (I dislike item malls and f2p style) but I am not ok with paying for the box only to find out the game is missing all it's features, is full of bugs and class balance issues and that I hate it in 2 weeks.


7) Is it something different? I'm tired of the clones, give me something new and I will try it.


8)PvP of some form, I like to battle it out with players sometimes so if a game offers no real PvP options I probably won't pick it up.


9)Highly instanced. No thanks.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/24/07
Posts: 2596

10/21/09 3:29:30 PM#15

i have a wall with all the names of new MMO's.  Blindfolded i throw a flaming dart at said wall and play whichever game it lands on


/sarcasm off


first off i look for gameplay elements...if those appeal to me then i move onto lore/fluff and finally i move onto the graphics (though i can put up with crappy graphics if the game is fun).

MMO wish list:

-Changeable worlds
-Solid non level based game
-Sharks with lasers attached to their heads

  User Deleted
10/21/09 3:31:03 PM#16

1. Storyline. It doesn't need to be complex, just original and fun. It's what brings the world together, makes it alive. Wether the story is living or dictated is irrelevant. I cannot stand free-lying concepts that aren't well strung together. From a personal standpoint, it comes off as cheap development.

2. Word of mouth. If family, friends or coworkers aren't talking about it, I'm not getting it. If it's appealing to the collective, it possibly warrants an investment. Rarely do I dive into a multiplayer game solo. Community that forms before a game hits is typically a good indicator of a game that will blossom into a community game (not always the case).

3. PR. Having screenshots, gameplay captures on youtube or xfire, etc to gauge is highly beneficial (but potentially detrimental) to my decision process. I'd wager I spend about 30 total hours researching developper notes, alpha/beta reviews, gameplay clips and the like.

4. Mechanics. I've purchased the game, I'm about to kick it off with a cleared evening on my schedule. When I log into the game for the first time, I need to be intrigued by the mechanics and flow of my chosen character. Typically, for a leveling game, if by level 10 I'm having fun, I'll probably level to the level cap. Typically, for an open game, if by the 3rd hour I'm having fun, I'll probably stick around.

I realize the game I play isn't (and shouldn't!) be apparent to me within the first sitting. I want to uncover as I go. But what is fundamental here is that the game isn't choppy. The downtime needs to be meaningful. The combat needs to be seemless. The animations need to be fluid. I have challenging expectations but not unrealistic ones.

5. Content. The game has passed the mechanics check? It's not choppy in gameplay style. My interactions with the world are fully in my control and it plays solid.

   - I desire solid PvP first and foremost. I've been around and know when I am facing off against someone who has a clue what they're doing- I may be a novice to the game at hand, but I can tell if the boughts are won because of skill or imbalance. I have no stomach for rock-paper-scissors style balancing.

   - The PvE must be solid and goal-oriented. The crafting must be involving. Exploration must be intriguing. Quests must have depth and meaning to them. A tall order on paper, but where effort on the part of the developpers is apparent, forgiveness for not immediately getting it right is justly awarded.

If my first sitting kicks off at 6pm and it's 10pm before I even glance down at the clock, I'm going to be loyal for 6months and see how things progress. This is at a minimum. If the game knocks me out of the park, I'm probably sticking around for longer. If I painfully glance at the time or distractions are numerous and frequent, I've been known to uninstall the same night of purchase.

6. Retainability. Repetition isn't always void of fun. There must be elements to the game that I enjoy repeating at no personal gain simply because they are really well designed.

7. Immersion. This is the ultimate criterion. If 1-6 is a go, then 7 is a shoe-in.


Most games I find entertaining are the games that are made by gamers for gamers. Some studios get it right, some studios had it right then sell out. I feel, personally, that within the MMO genre, most indie studios are too focused trying to get funding than they are about simply making a quality product. I'd much rather play the game with 10k subscribers who are all devout lovers of the game, than with 10million who are just jumping on a bandwagon. I personally feel that, given 3 years, we will return to an MMO era of fresh concepts and immersive gameplay as the norm.

Edit: Grammar.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/14/03
Posts: 34

10/21/09 3:53:43 PM#17

Immersion is key to me choosing a game. I love MMO's that I can enter and lose track of time and where a ding is an unexpected surprise. A game with diversity and not just combat mashing, a game where at least the mobs are pseudo realistic (spawning out of thin air right in front of me is just stupid). A game where I feel like a hero - I am a big fan of balanced instanced and open world missions. Only an instanced mission can really simulate that heroic feel. I also do not want to kill 'Ugrut Cleaver' for the thousandth time, I killed him once I should never see his ugly butt again. And what happened to non-combat challenges why can I not pick the lock on the chest? or out run the rolling boulder coming towards me? or be the only character that can attempt to translate the ancient text engraved on the tomb wall? there is so much more to adventuring than killing mobs and raiding a dungeon! Diplomacy, exploration and puzzle solving are left out in the cold which is a shame.

I am a huge fan of character customisation and I do not mean loot - I want to look cool from the off. Loot based games drive me crazy. Great if I stumble across a +10 Pneumatic Anti-Ablative Jack Vest of course I'll wear it but can I hide it from view? my character looks cool already without this new lump of synthi-metal covering him up. I want a game that enables me to build my dwelling and deck it out how I want it from the beginning, if transport is necessary I do not want to wait until Level 300 to get a bloody War Pony I want to go and buy one from the Horse Dealer from Level 1.

It needs to be a game that I can solo as well as group without penalty. I have a family, work and other commitments I cannot afford to put hours of time into a game. Most of my hours are spent playing solo but there are times when I feel like joining a team for some dungeon bashing - I want both options.

PvE or PvP - I'll take PvE every time but on occasion I have dabbled in duelling with another player but this should be the exception not the rule. Thats what arena's and battlegrounds are for.

And please can we have something original other than Fantasy or Sci-Fi there are dozens of genres that are untapped some originality needs to be developed.



The angel of death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of his wings.

House of Commons, 23 Feb. 1855


Novice Member

Joined: 3/17/06
Posts: 18

"Coffee is the nectar of the gods."

10/21/09 3:55:08 PM#18

      1)  I usually get attracted to a game by the genre and storyline first.  I try to look for something intriguing, unique, or something I've been looking for in a game.  2)  Then it's game play mechanics and style of crafting in the game.  I like to play games  that keep me occupied by something I enjoy doing.  3)  Next  I look at the company who developed the game and see if they are putting time into fixing the game, working out the bugs, and responding to customer feedback to make the game better.  It doesn't has to be an established company but one who seems to be supporting the game.  4) Finally I play the game and see if after a while I'm still into the game....immersion like someone mentioned in a previous post.  Some games I'll play for a while take a short break and come back to again.                                                                                                                             

   Currently I'm playing 2 a pay one (I have a lifetime sub to it) and a free one alternating back and forth to avoid burnout and keep the games fresh.   Every few months or so I'll try a new game in beta or newly released trial that I've been following progress on for a change of pace.

  User Deleted
10/21/09 3:57:17 PM#19

 I don't really employ any rules when I choose an MMO. So I pick my MMO by playing. I've played 12 in the last year. Most of the time I move on rather quickly but that's because I play Counter-Strike Source first and foremost. DAoC has been one of the only games to hold my interest long term since I started gaming.  Usually I am playing the game hoping to find something cool that I like doing but in the end nothing out in the last two years has interested me enough to keep me playing month after month. 

  User Deleted
10/21/09 3:58:12 PM#20

Simple, I play them all, one by one until I am through. XD

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